The Working Time Regulations recognise that to protect employees’ wellbeing it is essential that they have regular periods of rest and are able to recover from the hustle and bustle of work life. The regulations impose a limit on hours of work, in addition to providing rights to daily and weekly rest periods and holiday entitlement. Most of the restrictions can be modified through individual or collective agreements.
You should make yourself aware of your rights under the Working Time Regulations and seek legal advice if you believe that your employer is denying you any of these rights.
You are entitled to a period of 5.6 weeks’ (28 days) paid holiday leave every year under the law on holiday pay. Your contract of employment may allow additional holidays. If you are not employed on a full-time basis, or if you are in your first year of employment, your holiday entitlement will accrue pro rata.
To ensure that your health and safety are safeguarded, the Working Time Regulations set out limits on your hours of work, in addition to daily and weekly rest periods. You cannot be required to work more than 48 hours per week, unless you decide to opt out of this limitation. Your employer must not pressure you to opt out; it is a voluntary decision.
You are also entitled to a period of 11 hours’ of uninterrupted rest per day (between each period of work) and 24 hours’ uninterrupted rest per week. If you work more than six hours per day, you are entitled to a rest break of 20 minutes. These rest periods aim to protect your health and safety, ensuring that you have set periods to rest and recover from work.
If you are under the age of 18, you are not permitted to work more than 8 hours per day and no more than 40 hours per week. You will also not be allowed to undertake ‘night work’, which means any work conducted during the hours of 11pm and 6am.
If you work more than 4½ hours a day, you are entitled to a 30-minute break. You are also entitled to two days off per week.
You have the same holiday entitlement as a person over the age of 18, which is 5.6 weeks (28 days).
You will be categorised as a night worker if you work between the hours of 11pm and 6am. Night workers should not work for more than an average of 8 hours in a 24-hour period. The average hours worked is calculated over a 17-week period and this period can be extended by mutual agreement of you and your employer.
If you are a night worker, your employer must offer you a free health assessment before you start work and at regular intervals throughout your employment.
Time spent on call will be categorised as working time, if you are required to be present at a specific location, in other words your workplace, ready to undertake work. This applies even if you are permitted to sleep at the specific location while on call.
If your place of work is your home, in other words if you are provided with accommodation on site, then time spent on call at home may still be categorised as working time if your employer requires that you to remain there. A period on call will count as working time even if it is highly unlikely that you will be called upon to work.
If you work part time, you are entitled to holiday entitlement on a pro rata basis. Your total entitlement will depend on how many days you work per week.
Some sector workers are not subject to the 48-hour weekly limit. These include:
- Transport workers
- Workers in the armed forces, emergency services or police
- Security and surveillance workers
- Trainee doctors
- Domestic servants in a private household, and
- Sea-fishermen or workers on vessels on island waterways
Workers from other sectors can choose to opt out of the 48-hour weekly limit.
When it comes to calculating holiday pay when you leave your job, you are entitled to be paid in lieu of your unused holiday entitlement. This means that your employer will pay you an additional sum, which will equate to the number of paid holidays that you were entitled to.
Our team of Employment Law Solicitors can advise you of your rights under the Working Time Regulations, including the 48-hour weekly limit, rest breaks and holiday entitlement.
We can also offer help and support if you have difficulty enforcing any of your rights under the Working Time Regulations, and our experienced specialist lawyers can support you if you wish to consider opting out of the 48-hour weekly limit.
Call the Thorntons Employment team on 03330 430 350 to find out more about our services, or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you.
Depending on your case and circumstances, the first step is usually to arrange an appointment to meet an Employment Law Solicitor to discuss your situation and the way forward. We will outline your options and, depending on your circumstances, we can look at various funding options to help with your case costs.
Please note we do not offer Legal Aid for this service.